Monday, December 19, 2011

Don't Let Him In and Choosing Your Friends Wisely: A Movie Review

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*full disclosure: a DVD screener of this film was provided by Image Entertainment.

**here be some minor spoilers.

Director: Kelly Smith.

Writers: Kelly Smith and Chris Andrews.

Cast: Sophie Linfield, Sam Hazeldine, and Gordon Alexander.

Be careful who you pick up on the highway while on holiday. Make sure you stop for a hot blonde but not a grizzled lout. Otherwise, your time away from work will be full of murder and prose of trees needing "to be fed." This is the lesson that Don't Let Him In teaches horror fans as Kelly Smith's first film is confined by its budget while still finding a way to use psychology to tragic effect. As well, a small cast, one primary setting and only a few camera tricks keep this picture in indie territory with the film slightly formulaic. The film is slightly conservative overall.

Paige (Sophie Linfield), Tristan (Gordon Alexander), Mandy (Gemma Harvey) and Calvin (Rhys Meredith) motor out into the countryside, bypassing a friendly looking hitchhiker. Mandy's latest boyfriend is the result of a drunken night and a one night stand. He is mysteriously absent when minor chararcters start to die. Also, Paige and Calvin are a couple out to have a good time, but Mandy's petty bickering hampers the idyllic tone. Meanwhile, a local officer warns of "The Tree Surgeon," a man who likes to dismember locals. He also likes to hang their body parts on trees. Cheque please, this holiday is ending early! However, the characters stay around an isolated cabin waiting their turn to face a killer.

This film was made for under a million pounds so the focus is on the writing and the film's psychology. There is a twist in the film that this reviewer did not see and unfortunately, that twist is not clearly delivered. The psychological part of the film delves into killer's motivations. One character kills for money; another kills for lunacy. This reviewer would prefer to be killed for a reasonable reason rather than being offered up to the tree gods. Don't get any ideas readers. The characters in the film do not receive such a choice.

Short in runtime at under eighty minutes, Don't Let Him In is an interesting indie film from the United Kingdom that offers a few tense moments. There are a few surprises in the story as well. If you are an indie film fan, then you will enjoy this film. Yet, Kelly Smith could have tried experimenting a little more with the camera and story rather than sticking to a formulaic slasher story line. Give this film a spin for some interesting turns and a great finale that ends by sharp farm equipment.

Overall: 6.75 (good characters, some twists, gore, a solid finale, tragedy, some formula).

*this film will release with the following special features: commentary, behind-the-scenes, and trailer.

**this title releases on DVD January 3rd in North America.

A second review of this title is available at Cine Vue (Margherita Pellegrino):

Don't Let Him In at Cine Vue

The Don't Let Him In release details can be found at Image Entertainment:

Don't Let Him In at Image Ent.

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